Urinary incontinence (UI) is very common among older adult women. UI is a debilitating problem—it not only diminishes quality of life, but also decreases one’s ability to carry out daily tasks. UI increases with age and affects women throughout their lives physically, socially, and psychologically. UI affects activities of daily living (ADLs) that include sleep, genital hygiene, clothing options, sexual function, liquid intake, social life, and movement rhythm.
A recent study was conducted to examine the prevalence, risk factors, and effect UI had on ADLs for women age 65 and older. The results showed that the prevalence of UI among older adult women was 51.6%. The study also found that UI increases with age, particularly urge UI after the age of 60. The study suggests that psychological and social complications due to UI should be considered of most importance. UI not only influences negative feelings ranging from shame to depression, it also lowers self-confidence, decreases social activities, and increases social isolation. Furthermore, UI reduces a woman’s quality of life and that of her family.
The factors that were associated with the development of UI included the number of home births, age at last birth, number of pregnancies, experiencing UI during pregnancy, and breech delivery. Other causes of UI included high body mass index, constipation, chronic diseases, chronic coughing, nocturia, and hormone replacements. The fear of UI caused almost half of the female participants to avoid coughing and sneezing among ADLs, limit liquid intake, not lift heavy objects, and avoid long trips.
The study shows that UI is a common and critical medical condition that nurses, who spend the most time communicating and interacting with patients, need to be at the forefront in preventing and eliminating. Nursing home staff must provide quality of care that meets their residents’ needs. This includes managing a resident’s UI and being diligent in preventing it from occurring.